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RCA 16mm Sound Projector, The

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RCA 16mm Sound Projector, The

Publication date ca. 1958
Digitizing sponsor Radio Corporation of America (RCA)
Invisible white-gloved hands demonstrate the operation of the RCA 16mm sound projector.




Reviewer: Lorenzo1930 - - August 27, 2012
Subject: I was there when this film was produced
I worked at RCA, Camden, N.J. in the Commercial Electronic Products division advertising department. I handled advertising and sales promotion for RCA's line of 16mm projectors: the 400 Sr. and Jr., magnetic recorder-projector and the Xenon projector. Our #1 audience was 300+ audio-visual dealers who sold these products to schools, churches and industrial users. Schools were by far our largest users. One day I was called to the screening room to view this production. Although I had worked on the 16mm line for about 2 years, I had no prior knowledge that such a production was planned, so it was a complete surprise to me to see it. A small group of us watched, including my boss, Herman Henken and his boss, John Taylor who was overall advertising manager. I thought I somehow had missed the boat! The disembodied hands, the uber-narration, the over-long presentation. I thought to myself that it was a disappointing waste of time and money. Then the lights went up, and I was introduced to executives from the Big New York Advertising Agency, J. Walter Thompson who put the film together. The white-gloved hands were "special effects." My bosses were exuberant, smiling, congratulating the agency people. I remember standing aside, wondering what I missed. That was when I was 27. Now, of course, I understand. The planning was done at RCA's New York corporate headquarters. It was overly pretentious then, as it is now. It sent no buying message. It didn't speak to our dealers or their customers. But my bosses understood the corporate politics that I didn't at the time. I continued to work at RCA for a few more years. I can't remember ever seeing this puffed-up piece again.
Reviewer: JayKay49 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 18, 2011
Subject: I'm Impressed
We had Bell and Howell sound projectors in my elementary school (upon which by the way I first viewed many of the "health" films included on this site) and those Bell and Howells were much much more cumbersome than this one. Harder to thread and impossible to service yourself, and probably noisier too.

The horns and the gloved dismembered hands....was a recurrent theme in both printed and televised advertisements of the mid to late 50's - specifically in cigarette and television commercials.

I'd bet this was marketed for schools and industry. Households which made sound films would have been very rare in those days.
Reviewer: Realitysage - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 8, 2007
Subject: Doesn't look so easy....
On the bright side, just the thing for looking at soundee stag films.
Reviewer: 16lover - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 4, 2007
Subject: RCA 400 sales tool
This wonderful sales tool speak volumes about the way American Corps. sell and market items back in the '50's. Some of it makes you wonder just exactly who they made it for: the customer\ end user or as an award for the product manager at RCA. Great stuff!!
Reviewer: Popeye! - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 4, 2007
Subject: Wow! 16mm film is way different than 8mm
Great film, interesting to see a projector work like new. I recently bought a Mansfield Customatic projector (and spent over 50 dollars because the bulb stopped working on the first day I had it and bulbs are expensive to buy), and after I watched this film, i think that 8mm is very different than 16mm. The 8mm projector is overall simpler than the 16mm projector: there is one wheel (small, not a reel) for the film to be on, and after that it passes through the place that the lamp projects the picture. after that it goes to the take-up reel. BTW my projector IS silent, so there is only 3 buttons: motor, lamp, and off.
Reviewer: lil_wing - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 9, 2006
Subject: Fun to watch (for some reason)
When I was in elementary school, I was quite the teacher's pet. But I never got to suck up by running the projector- I just didn't know how to thread it. This movie would've been helpful then!
Reviewer: Juan Schwarz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 2, 2006
Subject: Interesting short
For someone, who is interested in these kinds of machines, it's a really interesting film to watch, since it show's a typical 50's 16mm Projector as it was, like we'll never see it: new. The only models existing of this machine are in a poor state, probably broken, and this specific projector doesn't seem to be a very good one, as it's almost impossible to find pictures or information about on the internet. So watching this film, is something really great.

I could imagine, that this was some kind of demo reel, which was a present for people who bought the projector, together with A MANUAL, this is obviously not a training film, since it would be a silly idea, requesting that someone watches a training film, showing, how to project films. But with the manual it was possible to thread the film, and watch the film, where it was explained in a more simple manner again, how to thread the film correctly.

By the way, compare the layout of this projector, with the one of the same model in that other film, which is in black and white... This one has a single knob, to turn on the motor and the lamp, and can run in reverse, in the other film, the projector has to switches: "Proj." and "Lamp". I suppose this is self-explanatory. Also, this one has, on the upper left side, to knobs, "Sound" and "Tone", the other one has only one knob... dunno what for, i think it's the amplifier switch...

And the white gloved disembodied hands... simple trick, the piece of film was once filmed with the projector only, and once with someone dressed in black and white gloves... so the person in black wouldn't expose the film, the hands do (and you can see the projector shine throug =P ). And when the hands have to do something... look carefully, they aren't disembodied then, you just don't see the arms =P .

Anyway, great little thingy, excellent to fill my hard disk =D
Reviewer: lwilton - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 6, 2005
Subject: Understanding this film...
This film is essentially a commercial for a new RCA 16mm film projector.

Contrary to a comment by another reviewer, this machine would not have been clunky by comparison to any other similar projector of the era. In fact, it has a number of features that would have made it easier to use than some other projectors of the time.

These machines were intended to run for years, often when operated by people with less than the necessary competence. In the 1950s and 1960s equipment like this was too expensive to just throw away every few months if something broke. So the machines were designed to not break; and if they did, to be quickly and easily repaired, rather than thrown out and replaced with something newer, as we do these days.

This commercial seems very silly today. Rest assured, it would have seemed very silly to the average person of 1958 also. The late 1950s and 1960s was a time of transition in advertizing. Before that, people that made products assumed the customers were competent and wanted to be treated as adults. Most film ads of that era are considered incredibly boring today, since they simply tell you why the product is good and let you conclude that you should buy it.

This was one of the newer generation of commercials, that assumed that the customers were idiots that really couldn't comprehend anything anyway, so just wave your hands a lot, make general statements (possibly not even relating to the product) and repeat frequently how much the customer wants to buy the thing you are selling. The idea is that the customer will certainly want to buy it if you give a glitzy enough presentation, even if you yourself have no earthly idea why the customer would want to buy it!

This was also a time when 16mm *sound* projectors were still somewhat of a rarity for the average consumer; although they had been around for several years for the educational market, and for decades in theartical production.

This fact explains the trumpets in the introduction of the film. At the time, it was common to use trumpet fanfares to introduce things, and also to make it obvious that there was sound associated with the movie image. People buying home projectors would have been used to silent projectors; getting their attention that this was a *sound* projector would have been a good idea.

Of course, this projector wasn't designed for home use. And the industrial users would have been mildly insulted or at least wrily amused by the silly insistance that sound on a projector was unusual. Just another example of the new style in commercials assuming the customer was an idiot - it usually made the salesman look like an idiot.

As for the Magic Hands demonstrating the projector: I can only assume that everyone associated with making this film was so embarassed by it they refused to be shown, so they had to settle on some disembodied hands!
Reviewer: ridetheory - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 21, 2004
Subject: Wait a minute...
STUDENT: "How the heck am I supposed to thread a projector to watch a training film that teaches me how to thread a projector?"

ZEN MASTER: "Wait about 45 years and download it."
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 18, 2004
Subject: Freddie the free loader! :)
In either the most over embellishing of a film ever produced, or a collasal in joke, TRUMPETS blaring greet us to how to load this curiously looking, heavy looking Sound Projector. While the magic white hands of "Fast Freddy" teach us how to load film, pretty amazing music accompanies it.. Then! everything is loaded! start the motor! Turn the lamp on! All of this is again, over embellished to the point of being ridiculous. All of this is a promotion for RCA's new projector, but just the design of it just makes me shakes my head.. but the film doesnt! Highly reccomended!
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